Monthly Archives: November 2013
About 15 years ago, three young boys combined their Christmas money and purchased what has become the best $100 ever spent around this house.
Millions of jumps, thousands of hours, hundreds of children and youth later, this old faithful structure still stands, tucked away in the corner of our yard. Three eager and excited little boys purchased the trampoline while mom and dad threw in a little extra money for the safety net. The athletic and bravado moves made on this structure have been amazing and much fun to watch. The creative energy that comes forth and is expressed in the midst of jumping up and down and up and down is something to behold.
In the early days of this well loved trampoline, there were a lot of slam dunk moves and pretending to be the latest greatest sports hero. But the makeshift milk carton and bungee cord goal has now sauntered down the tree trunk pole and just kind of hangs there full of memories. I just can’t bring myself to take it down.
There have only been two doctor visits as a result of time spent in this active backyard corner – one friend with a sore neck and a fractured ankle that popped as our youngest daughter ran around in circles as fast as she could go. The injuries did not occur until long after the boys had moved out and on from trampoline jumping and it turned into more of a girl dominated place of play. Cheerleading pyramids, gymnastics moves and the occasional sword fight happen on this fantastical 15 foot diameter stage.
We have had several warm fall North Carolina teacher workdays recently. On one of those days, I got to throw my porch door wide open and listen to what may be my very favorite sound in the entire world. Children laughing, playing and jumping on our backyard trampoline.
I have happy memories of waking up three sleeping sons, lying prostrate in this space and watching shooting stars light up the night. In my older mom years, I am a little too attached to my nights of sleep to wake up our girls who we’ve worked so hard over the years to encourage and experience uninterrupted nights of sleep. But we have at times spread out flat on our backs, watching the clouds go by and shared our Rorschach test in the sky experience. “See the rabbit, mommy?”. Today, this view is somewhat changed – the trees are fuller and make a larger canopy over our special jumping and staring up into the sky place.
This beloved play place is starting to break down. A few springs have popped and I am wracking my brain on how to restore this and convince it to last just a few more years.
The day is not too far off when we will have to dismantle this old faithful friend that has provided so much laughter and joy for so many. For now, it is satisfying to reflect on 15 years of memories and 5 beautiful children who have grown up bouncing up and down and up and down. I am hoping that there are a few more warm, porch door wide open kind of days when I can experience the laughter of children floating through the air and into our home. I can’t imagine these ears ever tiring of such a profoundly simple yet soul filling sound.
In our home, it takes place on September 21st and November 1st. Our family calls these particular celebrations “adoption day”. For the past nine years, we have acknowledged and honored these life changing days with the tradition of eating Asian food for dinner and then settling in front of our television to watch the videos created to memorialize our early days together. These videos are full of movie, photographs and emotional music chronicling our first two weeks together. They begin in Raleigh, follow us half way around the world to China and end back in our home. Mom always cries and sometimes other watchers join in the tear shedding.
As mom, the way I have watched these adoption chronicles has changed with time. Over the years, it has become increasingly emotional and painful to see our baby girls during those early weeks of grief, loss and shock. When we were actually living those days, my own happiness and exhaustion sometimes clouded over the reality of what was happening for our daughters. Though I certainly knew they were struggling and grieving, to now see their toddler faces filled with pain and grief on the family room tv somehow magnifies the complexity of what happened during those days.
I was recently talking of our adoption day traditions with a trusted adviser. Her words to me really struck a chord – “now that your girls have been back to China, maybe it is time for a tradition update.” We don’t typically mix the words tradition and update. Yet as we discussed further and talked specifics, this made a lot of sense to me. Going back to China this past summer enriched and expanded the meaning of homeland, family and adoption for each of us. How could we now incorporate this to update our adoption day traditions?
So during a recent family dinner, we talked together about adding a new thing to our family celebration. Before viewing their video, each girl would have the chance to share how going back to China has changed the way they think of themselves, their early days or their adoption. They had several days to consider this. And with permission, I share their thoughts:
“It gave me a better picture of my orphanage. I didn’t know what it would look like.”
“It [my orphanage] didn’t have air conditioning! I thought it would.”
“The orphanage was nicer than I imagined. It wasn’t a big room with lots of shabby kids – like in movies and books.”
Tradition often grounds us, plants us firmly in family and offers comfort, but sometimes a twist or update can enrich the experience and increase meaning. For future adoption days, we hope to have a new video experience to go along with, ie update, our journey together as family. Photos, video and emotional music chronicling our recent return trip will be watched alongside our earliest days together. The traditions will stand, but with a twist. Each of our lives as individual and family is a moving story that doesn’t stand still. Simply going back to those earliest two weeks together doesn’t tell the whole story. Many other chapters have been written and need to be honored and celebrated. In years ahead, I look forward to many more updates to this story and tradition.